Stress presents itself when a person feels under too much long-term mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope, and have no solutions in place. Everyone reacts differently to stress, some can cope seemingly easily, or even use it as motivation, or some can feel overwhelmed or drained.
Stress can be triggered by any life event such as work issues, relationship or money problems. When we feel stressed, often we cannot see a way out of these concerns, therefore a solution or resolution isn’t achieved compounding the feelings of pressure and stress.
Symptoms of Stress
Stress can have a very real affect on how you feel, think, behave and how your body works:, these can include:
- poor sleep
- loss of appetite
- difficulty concentrating
- feeling anxious
- feeling irritable
- have low self esteem
- have racing thoughts
- worry constantly or going over things in your head
- lose your temper more easily
- increase in unhealthy habits
- act unreasonably
- muscle tension or pain
- low energy
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body, enabling you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called “fight or flight” response. Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly feeling under stress, they remain in your body, leading to prolonged symptoms of stress.
Managing Daily Stress
It’s important to understand, and be aware of the symptoms of early stress, so you can address things before they become a more significant issue. Having awareness of what are triggers for you is also a proactive way of managing stress, as this will help you to get coping techniques in place, and save you from turning to quick-fix unhealthy habits. Also, and this is viral, try not to be too hard on yourself, everyone experiences stress, it is normal, so finding ways to self-soothe and protect your mental health shows intelligence and strength.
If you’re not sure why you are experiencing stress, keep a diary or journal for a few weeks to notice potential triggers and trends, then integrate more down time and coping mechanisms into your daily routine.
You can include, the date, time and place of the event plus:
- what you were doing
- who you were with
- how you felt
- what your self talk was like
- how you felt physically
- a stress rating
- what you did to soothe yourself
- talk to someone
Stressful situations will always show up, that is part of life, so acceptance is key. Often many stressful situations are out of our control, so you should focus on what you CAN control, such as how you react, what habits you have and committing to being more intentional about managing stress more effectively.
Here are some stress soothing techniques:
- schedule in relaxing times into the day
- regular movement and exercise
- set boundaries on your time and availability
- meditate or do deep breathing exercises
- surround yourself with supportive people
- be creative and do things that are joyful
- have a reset ritual
- create a relaxing / chilled playlist
- journal your feeling, wins and challenges
- where possible reduce triggers
When To Seek Help
If you’ve tried self-soothing techniques and they aren’t working, then you should seek help from your GP or speak to NHS 111, or visit https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services/. You should never ignore your symptoms, especially if they are getting in the way of living a productive and happy life.
Remember, there is no quick-fix cure for stress, and no one way or correct way for everyone. You can make small changes, develop new habits, and try different things until you find what works for you. Consistency is important, if you try soothing techniques and they work, then keep doing those things every day, rather than thinking the issue has gone. It is the same as strength training, if you lift weights and see muscle development, when you stop they go, it’s the same here with your mindfulness muscle, so keep doing what works.